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The Scientist and the Saxophonist

22 September 2008

World renowned scientist, Robert Winston, and number one saxophonist, John Harle, will join forces to share their unique insights into the science of music performance on Thursday 30th October at 7pm.

The lecture, entitled ‘The Scientist and The Saxophonist’, will take place at Canterbury Christ Church University’s Salomons Campus, Broomhill Road, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells.

The aim of the event is to raise funds for Canterbury Christ Church University’s £8 million initiative to build Kent’s first purpose-built concert hall. The University has secured a substantial proportion of the funds to build the centre and has launched an appeal for further external funding.

During the lecture, Robert Winston, who presents BBC1’s The Human Mind, The Human Body and The Human Instinct, and John Harle, the most recorded performer of the saxophone in the world, will ask: are science and music compatible? If so how do they interact?

Speaking before the event, John Harle said: “Robert and I are delighted to support the campaign to build a new music centre for the people of Kent.  The University’s Music Department has an established reputation for excellence in performance and therefore it is fitting to hold a lecture which aims to dissect the history of the saxophone and explore the mysterious world of science and music.  We will look at how the saxophone has become such an iconic and popular form of self- expression – from an analysis of the saxophone and its relationship to the human body, to its seemingly limitless ability to adapt to any form of music from jazz and blues to contemporary classical music. The lecture will end with a saxophone duet between Robert and I.”

John continued: “Robert and I met two years ago when I taught him to play the saxophone on BBC1s ‘Play It Again’ series, which ended with Robert playing a saxophone at the Royal Albert Hall.  During the filming of the lessons, we found that we were kindred spirits, with a great interest in each others’ area of work.  This collaborative performance lecture seemed to be the next step for us and it has been a pleasure to work with Canterbury Christ Church University to provide a unique evening with insights from both science and music that will both fascinate and entertain.”

Director of Music at Canterbury Christ Church University, Professor Grenville Hancox, said: “This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to listen to two leading authorities share their pioneering views on science and music.  The aim of this lecture is to raise funds for Canterbury Christ Church University’s initiative to build Kent’s first purpose-built centre for music. This £8 million project addresses an urgent county wide need – there is currently no purpose-built concert hall in Kent accessible to either world class musicians or to members of the community.”

Tickets are £10. To book telephone Kate Chesterman on 01227 782995 or email

Notes to Editor

If you are a member of the media and would like to cover the event or would like a further interview with John Harle or Professor Grenville Hancox, please contact Canterbury Christ Church University’s Media Relations Officer, Claire Draper, on 01227 782391.

Robert Winston

Robert Winston has an international reputation for his researches into human reproduction and has pioneered advances widely used in fertility and IVF treatment.  Amongst the public, he is perhaps best known for his work in popularising science.  Broadcasting regularly, he has made many highly successful television series on science and medicine, written a number of popular science books for both adults and children, and is a sought-after speaker to adult audiences, and to children in schools.  As a member of the House of Lords he regularly speaks in parliament on science, medicine, education and the arts.  As well as his research at Imperial College London, he is Chairman of the Royal College of Music and Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University.

John Harle

John is the foremost saxophonist of his generation and the most recorded performer of the saxophone in the world.  His prolific career as a performer, composer, producer, professor and creative consultant has taken him from the studio to the podium of the London Symphony Orchestra, and to collaborating with musical luminaries including Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Leonard Bernstein, John Tavener and Herbie Hancock.

John’s body of work stretches across genres from opera to pop, garnering both critical acclaim and commercial success.  His Grammy nominated album, Terror and Magnificance, features vocals by Elvis Costello.

He has produced more than 25 jazz and classical albums, composed more than 30 concert works and written over 100 film and television scores, including his Royal Television Society award-winning theme to BBC1’s series Silent Witness.

He was a ‘Castaway’ on Desert Island Discs with Sue Lawley in 2003 and is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and 4.

John is the Founder of Sospiro, a performance training company for business and the professions, and creator of The Sospiro System – a completely unique method of combing musical performance skills and musical structures with verbal communications to enhance presence and performance in non-musicians.

Alongside his performance career, he has been a teacher and mentor to a new generation of performers in the arts and in business.  In 1984 he was the youngest ever appointed Professor at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.

Kent’s first purpose-built music centre

The music centre will incorporate a 350 seat concert auditorium, a suite of fully equipped rehearsal and practice rooms, and a much needed space for music therapy practice.  It will be used by the University’s Department of Music, the local community and by world class visiting musicians.  The centre will be built in the grounds of the Grade II listed building, St Gregory’s Church, which is owned by the University and currently used for concerts and performances and by students and visiting musicians.

For media enquiries:

Claire Draper
01227 782391